The marathon 2012 election season reaches a key point today with the start of early voting in the party primary runoff elections. All of the locally contested races are on the Republican runoff ballots but Democrats do have a say in a statewide pick for that party’s nominee for U.S. Senate.

The primary runoffs offer some challenges for voters they might not be used to.

Because the primaries select the party nominees for the November election voters are allowed to only vote in one of the primaries. Also if you voted in the general primary in one party you cannot vote in the other party’s primary runoff.

For example if you voted in the Democratic primary in May you cannot vote in the Republican primary runoff. If you vote it must be in the same party primary you voted in May.

However if you did not vote in the primary you can pick which runoff you wish to vote.

And since the voting locations are hosting both primary elections voters must be aware which party they wish to vote.

For candidates a runoff presents some different challenges as well. No. 1 on that list is a focus on turning out the vote. Turnout for primaries is usually significantly less than the general primary.

Across the county Saturday candidates were busy walking blocks and urging voters to head to the polls. Unlike the general primary the early voting period for the runoff is only five days.

The runoff election day is July 31.

For the Republicans the local races include the race for county sheriff between longtime sheriff’s department commander Henry Trochesset and former FBI agent John Kinard. Also on the ballot is the GOP runoff for the county commissioner for the redrawn Precinct 1 pitting attorney Ryan Dennard against former Justice of the Peace Mark Foster.

Barring a write-in campaign two races for judge in the Republican runoff will determine who will be the next district court judge in the 405th and 10th district courts.

In the race for the 405th incumbent Wayne Mallia who was elected as a Democrat but switched parties last year is facing a challenge from attorney Michelle Slaughter. Slaughter got the most votes in the general primary and came close to avoiding a runoff in the four-way race for judge.

In a race featuring a bitter battle over who claims his opponent lies the most former Republican Party Chairman and current Dickinson City Councilman Kerry Neves is facing lawyer George Young.

There also are two state representative runoffs for the Republicans. For north county voters Dr. Greg Bonnen and engineering firm owner Ryan Sitton square off in the race to replace District 24 State Rep. Larry Taylor who is the party’s nominee for state senate.

In the District 23 race Wayne Faircloth a Dickinson insurance agent faces former Chamber’s County commissioner Bill Wallace. That district includes parts of Galveston and Chambers counties.

The Republicans also will be picking who the party nominee will be to replace outgoing Congressman Ron Paul who announced he would not seek re-election. In that race for the District 14 congressional seat State Rep. Randy Weber faces former Pearland city Councilwoman Felicia Harris.

There are no local runoffs for the Democrats but that party does have a statewide runoff with Paul Sadler and Grady Yarbrough fighting for the U.S. Senate seat held by La Marque native Kay Bailey Hutchison. The winner of that race though faces a tough challenge in having to defeat either Ted Cruz or David Dewhurst who are in a bitter runoff for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate.


At A Glance

WHAT: Early voting polling places

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today through Friday

WHERE: You can vote at any of the 12 early voting centers no matter where you live.

Galveston Justice Center (2nd floor conference room)

600 59th St. in Galveston

Joe Faggard Community Center 1700 state Highway 87 in Crystal Beach

Galveston County Courthouse (2nd Floor) 722 Moody in Galveston

Bayou Vista Community Center 783 C Marlin St. in Bayou Vista

Nessler Center (Surf Room) 2010 5th Ave. N. in Texas City

West County Building 11730 state Highway 6 in Santa Fe

Dickinson Community Center 2714 state Highway 3 in Dickinson

La Marque City Hall (Community Room) 1108 B Bayou Road in La Marque

Bacliff Community Center 4503 11th St. in Bacliff

Calder RoadNorth County Annex 174 Calder Road in League City

Kemah Civic Center 800 Harris at state Highway 146 in Kemah

Friendswood City Hall 910 S. Friendswood Drive in Friendswood

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